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Utahns, be wary of scams asking money for mudslide relief

Scams » Tips to remember when asked for donations for Washington slide relief.

By Vince Horiuchi

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Mar 27 2014 09:46 am • Last Updated Mar 27 2014 06:04 pm

The Utah Division of Consumer Protection is warning people to be wary of fundraising scams exploiting the mudslide tragedy in Washington State.

Though no such schemes have been reported so far in Utah, Francine A. Giani, executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce, asks consumers to be on the lookout for them in the wake of Saturday’s event, which so far has killed 25 people. The slide occured near the town of Oso, about 55 miles southeast of Seattle, and slammed into a neighborhood of homes.

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"While our neighbors in Washington deal with a tragic recovery effort after Saturday’s mudslide, brazen fraudsters will be busy looking for ways to profit off Utah’s generous reputation," she said in a statement. "If you really want to help these mudslide victims, make sure your donations go to a charity registered with the State of Utah."

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Charities » Stay with charities that have a track record. Fraudulent organizations can crop up and disappear quickly, especially ones that are promoted on the Internet or social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or email.

Names » Watch out for organizations that use similar-sounding names to legitimate organizations. Check out the organization before donating.

No cash » Do not send or give cash as a donation. Always pay by check payable to the organization.

High pressure » Don’t give in to high-pressure tactics. Legitimate fundraisers will not pressure you to give on the spot.

Couriers » Be wary of organizations that use couriers or delivery services to collect your money. Legitimate fundraisers do not use these services.

Call » Contact the charity to make sure they actually have solicited you for money and not a scam artist.

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Receipt » Make sure to ask for a receipt of your donation.

Prizes » Be wary of donations that promise giveaways or include sweepstakes.

Verify » Call the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 to check if the organization is registered in Utah. Or go to www.consumerprotection.utah.gov.


Twitter: @ohmytech

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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